About this Show

Book TV

Henry Gallagher Education. (2012) 'James Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot A Soldier's Story.' New.

NETWORK

DURATION
01:00:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 91 (627 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 15, Iraq 11, James Meredith 6, Memphis 5, Vietnam 4, Alabama 4, Michael Gordon 4, U.s. 3, New York 3, Jackson 2, Mr. Gordon 2, Henry Gallagher 2, Navy 2, Pentagon 2, Lyceum 2, United States 2, Soviet Union 2, Air Force 2, Kennedy 2, Georgia 2,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    Book TV    Henry Gallagher  Education.  (2012) 'James  
   Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot A Soldier's Story.' New.  

    December 15, 2012
    8:00 - 9:00pm EST  

8:00pm
8:01pm
next on booktv, henry gallagher recalls his assignment as officer in charge of the security detail for james meredith, the first african-american admitted to the university of mississippi in september 1962. this is about 40 minutes. >> thank you, john and my gratitude to the library of congress for hosting the event. i will try to put in 30 minutes
8:02pm
what happened to me 50 years ago with some reflection. this is my tenth book event since the book was published in september and each event is different and each audience is different and your questions are different. i was a 233-year-old arra tc second lieutenant from a small liberal arts college in minnesota, sat down to mississippi along with 15 or 19,000 other soldiers to quell the right to put down the right. i was not aware of where we were going because the kennedy administration that put a clamp on public disclosure. it's not until we got to memphis that we were aware of our mission. it was such a delicate, uncomfortable effort. u.s. military and it was a military oftentimes i say i'm army out of place. the military police had the mission sometimes to put down domestic disturbances that they occurred once every 100 years
8:03pm
assumptive to that effect, clearly not the mission of the 82nd airborne are the 101st or even the marine corps who were present that morning. 19,000 troops. two units had prepared, had been given advance notice as to what they were doing and they prepared for it in riot control. why all of this for one african-american student who wanted to get an education? it's a brand name university. it's because the whole state was an insurrection from the government to to the statehouse itself statehouse itself down to the 11-year-old who were throwing bricks at us in the streets. it was total chaos, a little mayhem and even the mississippi highway patrol had pulled away so there was your insurrection. it lasted two or three days. the violent part of it and then after that i was appointed to be the security officer for james meredith and went to school with him, or he went to school and i
8:04pm
stayed outside with a hand-picked patrol, 12 soldiers and we were there throughout the year. we transferred back and forth in the army was in place for almost a year until he graduated in august of 1963. i was 23 years old. i grew up in an all all-white neighborhood in south minneapolis. johnson, swanson, peterson and bergstrom and a few italians but that was pretty much it. it was an eye-opener for me but again, we were trained and i am so proud of what the army did. when you write a book, this was my first, the publisher has to say on what the title should be. i call the mississippi morning is when we woke up it was 6:00 in the morning and teargas had passed. the sun had come up and it looked like any other small town. it was also an awakening of a culture. the university of mississippi would never go back to its old
8:05pm
days. the book is not about james meredith. so often book titles, subtitle carries a story and it is a soldier story. and army out of place, yes but again they did their job. i saw pieces of violence after that first morning but then we moved into a somewhat boredom, boredom to the point that even he himself, james meredith and eccentric character but a brave character, sort of chafed at being guarded as we regard him. now not moving him around from point to point as we were advised by john dower, my iconic civil rights hero in the civil rights division and nicholas katzanbach. he was to have as much freedom as any other student. well, yes but at the same time there were deer hunters and it was the season and we had -- we were constantly aware of who might come up onto the campus, didn't look like a student, had
8:06pm
a bent mind in a deer rifle and we had to be constantly aware of that kind of threat to his life. he was a brave person. i was sitting in his dormitory room for the first couple of days reading the hate mail, the death threats and very detail. james, we know where you live, we know where your parents are. we are going to kill you. we are going to kill your twins. i looked at james and i saidsaid, have you read this one? he looked back at me and he said lieutenent, i'm late for my spanish class, let's go. that bravery stayed with him in that courage stayed with him throughout my association with him. he never blinked. the students going. i should say that 99% of the student body went about their way getting an education. they cared little about him being on the campus. for them it may have been an annoyance. we were the annoyance for the
8:07pm
students. there were a handful of students who would know everywhere he went, every corner. go back to africa, we are going to get you, we are going to get to get u.n. that stayed on through october and november. but is lessened when i came back in the spring. the racial attitudes are still there and it always reminded me, he was in just the students yelling out, it was their parents and their grandparents, the legacy of the separation of races in that state. it was fair to a certain extent and it's there now. 50 years later we have an african-american president and the night he was reelected there is a disturbance on the campus. so many of the headlines the next morning said racial protest that ole miss. well it was not. it was a group of students who didn't like the results of the election but just a handful of them were throwing out racial slurs and screaming.
8:08pm
that has to be in context. there is an expression mississippi was, mississippi is. it means they have changed. they have a change in a way that a lot of northern press was not aware of and probably are not aware of now. the army had been, thank you harry truman, there may have been disaggregated to the point by the time i got in 1962 it was flattened out. there may have been racism in the barracks and a tense but it was not out in the open. alabama psc, black officers took orders from black sergeants. once we left, the comfort of the army base and opposed as we moved south, it was a different culture that we got into and of course it was a freeze frame, photograph, a snapshot of racism
8:09pm
that we saw that first morning while we we were there. so, kudos to the military. they did a good job. my driver one time asked me, lieutenent, what are we doing? this was late november. he is still alive isn't he? the only way i can respond to that is, to a direct question but that answer to that question was enriched 50 years later. i was in jackson mississippi earlier last month on the fifth of the sixth book event, downtown jackson, middle-class mixed-race african-american and white audience, maybe 30 or 40. i'd told them the arc of my story and then we went into a question and answer period for 20 or 30 minutes. a little bit of a the larger room than this here. an african-american woman in the second row back, knew she wanted
8:10pm
to say something and i wound down and i said are there any more questions? she shot her hand up and she said yes, i want to say something and i don't know how i can say it. i said i think i have enough nerve to say but it but i want to thank you for coming. i didn't know if she meant that morning or 50 years ago. she said let me tell you my story. i was growing up in vicksburg and daddy told us that night to stay in the house and stay away from the windows. there is trouble out on the street. it was not a good time for blacks in vicksburg and it was not a good time for blacks to be in the state of mississippi. that weekend, i had faith in only two things, god and the united states army. that moment, i grabbed the podium and she started tearing up. as i tried to respond, i started tearing up and there was
8:11pm
obviously approval throughout the audience. so she stood up and pointed her finger at me and she said thank you for coming. i came over here 50 years later to say that and she sat down. the book tour, i have a university press, they don't pay advances. i go to hotels and pay for the airfare and paper the hotel and everything. i want to get the message out and get young people to know what happened 50 years ago but that poignant moment answer the question that my driver asked me 50 years earlier. are we doing any good down here? so, i will never forget that moment. putting a book together like this 50 years later, it is in the first person because i wanted the reader to not only be with me but the ahead of where the protagonist is. protagonist did not know where he was going. we were not told.
8:12pm
the reader now has some idea what was happening. not until our planes arrived in memphis that next morning to an airport, an air force base or a navy base that had more landings i think that o'hare airport had that morning. it was busy. kennedy administration did not want to lose out on this one. anyway, when you are pointed pointed to pointed to be security officers which in its situation keep notes. you keep notes and telephone numbers, license plates, names of people or today we call them persons of interest. people who didn't look like students. every night i had to report to the fbi for anyone who might've come into -- checked into a hotel who didn't look like he belongs there. so i kept those notes and i looked at them over the years. i started this book 10 years ago. i started talking to people who were in my unit and they provided me with anecdotes.
8:13pm
i looked over old newspapers, looked over old magazines. started piecing things together. ken burns says, look at a photograph on and off. the photograph comes to life. the person that had the life before the snapshot will have a life after it and you begin to again, put things together so a few take a photograph of some of the buddies at the camp, you start trying to retrace your steps. so that is what became the life and i connected all the dots. i had a lot of support. some of you in the room here, to keep pushing this thing. if i don't sign books after this event if i don't have the finale or inscription for you, i will put down, once you are done reading this book please pass it on to a young person. again, this happened 50 years ago but it happened yesterday morning. racism is still there and it's still a mississippi and still in
8:14pm
our society but they have made great strides. governor winters, institute of racial reconciliation, bringing books, bringing speakers to the university of mississippi. i brought myself a few people down and mark shields went down with me three years ago and he had an interesting comment. he said you know, the northern liberal looked at the civil rights movement as a laudable movement until the movement started moving north and then the texture of the comments change. that is pretty much my story. i don't want to tell you the story. i want you to buy the book so i can pay some of those airfares and hotel bills. but again, it's something i want young people today to know about. racism is still there, but the army played a significant role
8:15pm
50 years ago and i will never forget what that woman told me. thank you for coming. [applause] any questions, please? >> i was going to ask this question a little later and it's the same question is what i asked you in vietnam when he served there in the late 60's. never knowing that this chapter in your life and you gave me a pretty nuanced answer. there are many shades of gray in vietnam, whether black or white, and i learned a lot from you. i never knew the whole time that you had done this as a young man, so i salute you and i thank you for being a mentor, trying
8:16pm
to answer that question many years later and i admire you greatly. >> thank you, thank you. [applause] the gentleman in front. >> i'm wondering two things. one, why you decided to do this book so much later and two, if you have any specific training in the army in this kind of duty before he went down there or were you kind of winging its? >> it's ecowas write the book. i have a lot practiced in washington for many years. i felt ultimately that i would put it together and piece it together. a magazine article and it expanded and it became what it is right now. always in my mind, i want young people to know. i want young people to know the this happened and so it took a while. my brother is a writer in new york and he was my editor for a while. i fired him three times, and i
8:17pm
went back with the help of my wife, back into my first year of legal research because i had to certify, authorize this piece of nonfiction. i felt with a memoir you could just wing it you can't because once you start highlighting things you've got to get authority for it. you even have to get consent from the people that you put photographs and. i had a letter from james meredith right after i left, which is in the book itself and i wanted to put that in. my wife reminded me, we need his permission. i don't need his permission. he sent it to me that he didn't send us the world. i send a form letter to jackson mississippi and he signed it on the backside of the envelope, it's about time you got your book out 50 years later. so it took a long time. yeah, it did take longer than i thought it would but again piecing things together, "u.s.
8:18pm
news and world report"'s, "life" magazine, look magazine, all those helped me support my story and the story again again of a protagonist who didn't know what was going on but i put notes in the book so the reader knows what's going on. this 23-year-old second lieutenant hasn't a clue until we get to mississippi and memphis. your second question, i'm sorry? training. military police are trained, p.o.w. for prisoner control. prisoners, foreign prisoners of war are all people taking them back to the jails and court appearances but never body guarding someone. so we had no starter kit. we just winged it those first couple of days. mistakes are made. you keep looking at meredith and
8:19pm
not at the second story, not at a window. you keep thinking like a mother watching her child go forward on the street and you keep looking, well that's the wrong thing. you don't look at your charge. you look at who might bring harm to the charge and it's instinctive. you look at a crowded look at who is looking looking at us? why are they looking at us? are they planning on what our schedule is? are they moving around depending on where we go or are they looking at is just out of curiosity? they want to be there, it's a piece of history. so again, it was on-the-job training. has anyone in the audience served in the military? please, your hands? so few of us left these days. just throw a second lieutenant into the pool and if he survives he survives and if not, bring down another one. they are expendable.
8:20pm
i picked military policemen who are veterans and have some degree, i felt some degree of performance and professional self-control. self-restraint. no trigger-happy, no can't state incidences. this was an important event in the eyes of the world around me. luckily, i pick the right ones and an event in memphis the night before, we were separated by the blacks. the blacks had to step back. the night before when out of the gate in mississippi candidate be in the stray shin in the army felt that the situation on the campus was so incendiary that the snipers would have been picking out blacks coming in their army units but it was a poignant moment. 1962, blacks have found a home in the army. a large part of our leadership
8:21pm
noncommissioned officers were african-american. when captain was a black officer. said that, shamed, couldn't go to mississippi with us. by wednesday of that day meredith looked at me and said lieutenent wear your black soldiers? you surely must have some. i sent that line up to the command and they brought the black soldiers. but i picked people in the patrol who hadn't least some common sense and experience but we never had a bodyguard experience in that sense, to answer your question. please, sir? >> has anybody who participated in the riots ever expressed any sense of embarrassment? >> embarrassment? >> yeah. >> i did not have enough time to finish what i wanted to do. i wanted to have an appendix in the back of my book. i put ads in the mississippi
8:22pm
newspaper, so neutral. my name is so-and-so and i'm writing a book. i was sent down to mississippi in 1962 by the army, and i thought if there was a lot of emotion on the other side of this issue, i would like to talk to someone. i would like to put your remarks in my book. i didn't have enough time. i got no response from that ad by the way but had i gone further, gone into alabama and georgia, sure, probably would have come up with something. i'm trained as a lawyer's 2002 questions. sir, sir, i don't care but your racist tendencies or your segregation at the time but give me the story. to answer your question few people have come forward. in a public forum at least and express their views and whether they have change their views are not. a lot of them have not. i would have wanted to have them interview as well. it would have helped out in the
8:23pm
end of my book in the appendix. in have i spoken from time to time? >> yes. he has gone a different direction. he is an interesting character. he has written a book this last summer, sort of revisiting why he did what he did. maam? >> i just want to thank you for writing this book. i commend you for writing this book. i think so often we focus on the horrible things that happen which are important to share but i think it's also important for people who actually did something to share their stories as well. my parents were -- i family lived in alabama for a generation and my godfather was one of the department of justice employees for the students and i
8:24pm
grew up hearing their story. i very rarely hear in a public forum and individual, just an ordinary citizen talking about what they did and i think it's important to share those stories so that we can know that you can do something, and you can make a difference. and you can inform the public discourse, not just how tail to the people who are the majority and who are -- negatively. my question is, do you know an effort going on to collect the stories of people, just ordinary people who were involved and did something? beasher. 10 years ago, there was an old history project for those who returned to ole miss and they were marshals, soldiers, students, faculty. i think a repository of that
8:25pm
written word is on the campus at the university of mississippi and researchers are probably clearly at hand for them to go through and do that. let me comment a little bit about what does get the news and what doesn't get the news. my first event was here in washington two months ago actat, of all places, a -- [inaudible] and i felt strange going into the room. round. i did talk about my story, and one man was agitated to the point that i threw a point of humor in there and he did not like it. he said i tell you, was down there is a lawyer working with radio station in jackson and the blacks and whites trying to reach some sort of meeting point and this was the first i had heard of this. now of course, my mission that month was not reaching out to blacks and whites on the radio station in jackson.
8:26pm
we had the bad guys to go after but unfortunately those kinds of events don't get the publicity that they should. right-minded people, well minded people see some accommodation. not unlike what happened three or four weeks ago on the election night at ole miss. one newspaper reporter called it a race riot, a racist riot, occurring. it was not that. anti-obama, pro-romney students came out onto the campus and demonstrated. it's their right. they can do that against a result of an election and a handful of students were screaming out racial slurs. putting that in context, the next day three times that amount of people showed up for a candlelight ceremony protesting
8:27pm
the incident of the night before. so mississippi was, mississippi is, is moving on. but yes you are right. there is more and more they should come out and talk about it. so you get a balanced picture. their view of the south may not be the correct one today. it's not just a bunch of rioters throwing bricks. thank you. >> henry, could you talk a little more about the special security details that you had following your initial -- and i would assume -- you are chosen for that. did you know why you were chosen for that? >> yeah, thank you. i was the lead in my battalion from ft. dix new jersey, to go down to oxford.
8:28pm
we were not prepared. i had to -- my colonel looked at me and he said, do your best. this was after i asked about a map. armies have maps. they have maps of central europe. they have a map of the park benches and a fire hydrant. we did not have a map. do your best, he said. i looked up and my brother was an enlisted man in the army and he said, whatever you do as a second lieutenant, don't show indecision. just make in order and make a decision and move with it. so i grabbed my driver and radio operator in a looked out across one of president eisenhower's new interstates going alongside it and i saw phillips 66 gas station. there is the rest of the story. i grabbed him and went over and walked in full battle gear, gas mask, pistol and everything else
8:29pm
up into this midnight on the midnight shift filling station operator. can i have a map of? you know, when the shows an edge of memphis appear? he jumped off of his stool, scattered around behind the counter and gave me a map and out the door i went. that was preparation number one. we did at least have the map and the lead jeep for 640 military policeman, 140 vehicles, the driver and elite jeep and the lieutenant have a map. crossing into the base, i notice that there was a shore patrolman working the midnight shift at the gate. no one was coming in. a few cars were coming in and i told my driver, ron, stop. let's ask the this guy how to get down to mississippi. he put the map out on the hood any of the flashlight. yes sir go down to this lighting get to this dateline and take
8:30pm
highway 78 and you are going to get it. i get back in the jeep and one of those things hits you. i gave him a name of gerald. i did not know his name. i hope he reads this book or his grandchildren read the book and let him know. i went back to him and they said, gerald, look, we are just a bunch of yankee's from the north. i know you were navy and i'm army that you have got to help us out. yes, sir. i will show you again. no, don't show me. gerald, you you're coming with us. his eyes popped out and he said sir, i can do that. i will be awol. besides you are army and i maybe. gerald, the voice of my brother, just make a decision, get him t -- get into the jeep under orders of president kennedy. my driver was bigger than gerald and he was nudged into the back of my jeep. we raced back to the base and
8:31pm
140 vehicles ready to grab the gate and i had mixed emotions. i had more assurance, more insurance on how to get there but i also felt i had just kidnap somebody. anyway five minutes later, 20 minutes later we went out to mississippi and down the road, got some resistance. a tennessee highway patrol on the state line, saw this big sign mississippi welcome to the magnolia state and i was looking around for the mississippi highway patrol. i did not know until six hours later, did not know they had totally walked off the performance of their duties, totally left the state of mississippi and further insurrection and cleared the campus. we made our way down a two-lane highway, ultimately reported to
8:32pm
a general officer. when you are second lieutenant in the military, you barely show up reporting to a lieutenant colonel and here was a general officer with a star on his shoulder. he said lieutenent i want you to take a platoon of soldiers down to the lyceum and put out the brides and then go downtown. so, i did not want to ask him anything, like a chief executive officer and a corporation giving a low employee in order. you don't say excuse me sir can i ask you a few questions? you just hope the executive secretary is lurking in the hallway that can tell you about the order you have just been given. i said yes, sir and out the door this little airport confine and as i was walking back to my chief, a major came up and provided me all the details. the lyceum, i didn't even know
8:33pm
what the lyceum was. it turned out to be the major administration building for the university. so i went through a series -- i was on a recon on 3g trying to get back to the battalion on the highway. we got laws. made my way back, went back through this backyard of this old lady who was by then standing and screaming at us all. i had gone through her backyard with my three jeep convoy, made it out to the highway, have these orders from the general and we were ready to go back in toward the campus but i wanted to retrace my steps, and i did. retrace my steps through the ladies side yard, that side driveway. eyes hurt out on connecticut avenue trying to measure how long it takes her 140 vehicles to pass one point going 14 or 15 miles an hour. i think it probably took an hour. the yankees from new jersey to
8:34pm
arrive in the south through that old lady's backyard. a few minutes later, maybe an hour later, i had gone over to where the command was in the armory and my colonel came out and said, you are going to be the security officer for james meredith. and then i had to take the best i could find. sharpshooters, self-controlled and we were not to be too close to meredith. 30 seconds of him and on my radio and i've often said we can only catch the killer and we really couldn't prevent harm to him. again he was allowed to freely walk across across the campus back-and-forth. so that is -- it was called the peanut patrol. hardly something ferocious like a bear or a tiger but a person came by the first day and said what he is going to call your patrol? you have to have a name for it for radio purposes, then
8:35pm
sterile, providence college 1961 was reading a peanuts cartoon from the local newspaper and he said call yourself a peanut patrol. you will be peanut one, two, three and four. a week later the cuban missile crisis occurred in swept everything else off the news and they read a telegram from the pentagon that my unit would be deployed at a certain demarcation point in south carolina with the 82nd airborne in the 101st but the peanut patrol would stay in place so it became part of pentagon lore, a long convoluted answer to your question. please. >> the fact that you selected your team -- [inaudible] to work and disasters around the world in the time of vietnam with the u.s. military.
8:36pm
i remember seeing a situation where the commander gets to actually pick the right people. i don't believe that exists any more. >> this was my assignment. please select, but they knew more about it than i did. i had the whole battalion so we were able to get pretty good people. generally, they did this and nobody lost their cool. we had one or two close incidents thereafter in front of the cafeteria. while they hated the marshals, the deputy marshals, civilians running random blue suits they had a regard for us because we wore uniform. part of the tradition of the south. patriotism first, so they didn't give us too much trouble but once in a while, once in while
8:37pm
they did. it was again, the book is dedicated to my battalion members because they were in army out of place and they perform so well. >> i am not so sure that would be the case today. somebody would say the following individuals will go down with henry gallagher. >> that's right. >> you don't have that same kind of 30 dozen -- >> you are right. it would be corporate. yes, maam? >> i don't have a question, but a comment. i grew up in pennsylvania and conservative lancaster county but i was living in gulfport mississippi at the time of this incident. and i learned in mississippi that i was a yankee and it was not a complimentary term. i never thought of it being -- living in the north and i never
8:38pm
thought about being a yankee. but we didn't talk out loud very much because our accent would have displayed us as yankee's and attention was tremendous. so we just kept a very low profile and listened and it was a horrible time. >> yes. has anyone seen the movie hell, or read the book? that reflects some of the culture at the time. i think president kennedy said, wide mississippi of all places? why couldn't it be georgia which had a little bit of the liberal tradition, a little in alabama but the deepest of the deep south states, mississippi. james meredith wasn't picked by a group, by a committee or anybody. he just wanted to go to school and later on the army caught up with what he was doing and the
8:39pm
justice department administration, who is this guy? what is he doing? we had to play catch-up. it very brave guy. i was in a cocoon those six months i spent down there so i didn't have a chance to go off campus and top with the locals but again, this square, william faulkner square in the middle of oxford. the blacks that at one end and the whites were at the other in. i don't know if it so happens that way but if you are an african-american in 1962 and had any business to do on the square, you better be about your business quickly. go to the bank. no loitering. no hanging around talking to each other. get your job done and move on. trying on a hatted nielsens department store? it was your hat. you bought it. that kind of the culture.
8:40pm
when the army has this kind of an assignment, humor breaks out every time and thank god for the army humorists. one of our black officer says hey look i am on the front of the bus. i am in the front of the bus and i'm in mississippi. daily, that kind of survival humor. it was boring. it was boring, except for those first moments of tension during the riots and then tension later on when he would be moving from class to class. we would spot a car that shouldn't be there for someone who didn't look like a student but other than that there was a lot of flat time and a lot of boredom and thank god again for humor. one new yorker said, i wish that mississippi should really be like canada, different license
8:41pm
plates and cigarettes and soda pop and maybe different stamps. this was a man who could not wait to get back to new jersey and when the plane landed they all kissed the ground. he couldn't wait. he said i knew the nightmare was not over until i saw the word new york on the holland tunnel. thank you. [applause] as president obama begins his second term in office was the most important issue you can consider in 2013? tell us if your grades six to 12 make a short video about your message to the president. >> c-span student videocam competition in their chance to win the grand prize of $5000, 50,000 in total prizes.
8:42pm
the deadline is january 18. for more information go to studentcam.org.
8:43pm
>> you are watching booktv on c-span2 and we are the national press club for the annual authors night. we are joined now by michael gordon of "the new york times." "the endgame" is his most recent book. if you could summarize for us mr. gordon. >> this is really three years,
8:44pm
the first comprehensive history of the war in iraq and i think what makes it unique is that i incorporate not only the american policymakers but all of the iraqi leadership from minister maliki, president talabani, their rivals and adversaries, satirist and so i incorporated the iraqi account of all was going on as well as the american accountant as well as what was happening on the battlefield. i covered it for "the new york times." >> uka let the "the endgame." >> because i covered the search and it's about the endgame of the american military involvement and it covers the obama administration. it is not really been well covered by the media. i actually learned a lot doing it, and it was during the campaign when president obama
8:45pm
talks a lot about the goals and the end of the war in iraq and certainly the troops but what i discovered in doing the book was actually the administration's own policy objectives in iraq, their own objectives that went far beyond taking out the troops and extended to remaking the iraqi government and creating a power-sharing arrangement that included a failed effort to negotiate an agreement with american forces staying in iraq and some numbers. >> failed agreement? >> they tried to negotiate one so having failed to negotiate the agreement they claim credit for taking officers down but initially they did try to negotiate something to keep a modest number of troops initially 10,000 later 5000 for a whole friday of reasons it didn't work out. i covered the start of the war in the middle of the war and the endgame with the american military involvement. >> michael gordon you said you covered the entire iraqi war for
8:46pm
the near times. one point "the new york times" were renting a house over in baghdad? what was that like? >> yeah, we had a house. "the new york times" was never in the green zone. it was always in the red zone. we had a house and it was not a bad place actually but it was heavily fortified with a fairly large security contingency almost entirely iraqi. one bread and one iraqi, built-in machine guns and all that sort of stuff. i think it was better defended than the american diplomatic compound in benghazi and i mean that seriously. it turned out not to be necessary but i mean i didn't spend all that much time there because i did a lot of embedded reporting. they shifted it to a different location but you know, they had a bureau there with armored cars, full-time iraqi staff. it was a fairly large endeavor
8:47pm
for the newspaper. >> are there any americans in iraq with armored cars? >> it has improved. i was there the summer before to see prime minister melekian i went around in the street with iraqis, got out of the car and went to a demonstration went to a store. i wouldn't linger in some of the more contested neighborhoods. if you went into sadr city you would make sure you have security. it is better than it was by far, it's a million times better than it was an six and a seven and i have to say from a military perspective, the search really did drive down the level of violence. it was the surgeon made possible for american forces to leave but there are very unsettled political issues including the threat towards authoritarianism by the iraqi government. >> michael gordon's new book,
8:48pm
"the endgame" the inside story of the struggle for iraq, from george w. bush to barack obama. mr. gordon its it's november 2012 right now. how many americans are in iraq? >> there are no american troops performing a military function there. what they are is about 200 odd american military personnel who are at the embassy in their primary duty is to sell american equipment to the iraqi government, m-16s and the like and then an apparently sizable american embassy which will be contracted by the state department by 25%. what you don't have, in and there is a -- and kyrgyzstan and a conflict outside of basra in northern iraq, but the united states a think has lost a lot of situational awareness of what is happening in iraq. it doesn't have anything like the footprint that used to have.
8:49pm
iraq is still a strategically vital country and one of the largest oil reserves. it's out producing iran in terms of oil and strategically located between persia and the arab countries. is a strategically important place. turkey, iran, the arab countries and the united states are all battling in iraq now and that's the drama that's going on. >> do you perceive a normal relationship with iraq, where people can travel there etc., safely? >> well, there is still some american business interests in iraq. if you go to kyrgyzstan, which is somewhat like a separate country, there is not a serious security threat. i was there and i stayed in hotel. you can travel around and take a taxi. commercial air from erbil to baghdad. that portion of iraq is fairly
8:50pm
stable but i would say the rest of iraq, you can get around there and is certainly a lot better than it was during the war but i wouldn't traveled there without some security from the iraqi government or my own private security. >> michael gordon covers the war for "the new york times" and "the endgame" is his newest book. this is booktv on c-span2. >> he is not safe on that bus. >> all of us i think in this country are starting to see people coming out and talking about their experience in this phenomenon that so many of experience in one way or another and have had numerous -- other than adolescents, other than growing up. finally, people are starting to stand back and say hold on, this isn't a normal part of growing
8:51pm
up or a normal rite of passage. i think there was a moment where there was a possibility for change, and director lee hirsch and i decided to start the film out of that feeling, that voices were kind of bubbling up, coming up to the surface to say, this and something we can except anymore as a normal part of our culture. filmmaker cynthia low and has followed film by bringing stories together. here more tonight at 10:00 on "after words" on c-span.
8:52pm
8:53pm
>> the book starts out with a combat mission in 2003, with a combat mission in 2003, north of a town the town in iraq called nasiriyah. are you guys marines? no? , okay. there was a marine unit that got cut off in the biggest sandstorm i've ever seen in my life had rolled into saudi arabia and iraq and cover the whole continent. somebody had to get down underneath that stuff and try to save the marines. that is what the book opens with. i talk a little bit about the history and most of what i did, i was a -- anyone knew what that is? you guys are air force?
8:54pm
cadets? okay, you have argued been there, done that. a wild weasel is a very unique and screwy kind of person whose job and life it is to go out and get shot at by antiaircrantiaircr aft artillery and if you survive, when you survive, you go back around and you remove those threats so they don't bother anybody else. i'm not going to tell you what the first guy said in a asked them to do this in vietnam. you can read about it in the book. there's a company of youngsters here so i won't go into that but it's really a screwy job and most of what i did -- i talk a little bit about the history of hull that all came about. it's not a textbook. when i learn, and like to learn without knowing that i'm learning. anybody ever read bill bright and's books? i learned a lot and i didn't even know that i learn. you get the history and you start out with what happens when i was commissioned as a
8:55pm
lieutenant and that process it takes to become a pilot and a fighter pilot after that. i talk a little bit about the first gulf war. there are some funny things in there too. it's hard not to spend 20 years doing something without some funny things. my first combat mission was a very long day that culminated in the officer's club at an airbase in turkey and there are some amusing stories in there. i won't ruin the book for you. and then i did an exchange tour with egyptian air force for year and a half. i had to go out to a school and learn how to speak arabic and learn about them and how they think and how they operate. i got to do that for year, which was interesting. i had a chapter about that which is called fly like an egyptian. anyone old enough to remember that? walk like an egyptian.
8:56pm
again using anecdotes in that year that i spent, some not so amusing. i think it opens in the morning when i was doing a test flight and i wrapped the airplane up into an a.g. climbed thinking how cool is this, and the engine quit. it was suddenly not so cool anymore for the 50 seconds it took me to get the airplane back down on the ground. i will tell you how that ends. as i was sitting on the ground, it catches up with me and i start to sweat a little bit. i am grateful to be back down on the ground. this egyptian peasant walks across the room. it's locked down tighter than ft. knox. i was not expecting to see this peasant plot along in front of my airplane 20 feet in front of the jet leading a donkey. i thought, what am i doing here? the donkey probably believed himself in front of the airplane
8:57pm
and they shook their head at me and walked off. there are some funny things like that. basically it traces the path, at least my path as a fighter pilot. i came back from overseas after six years with the good life. i lived in europe. you get to travel and you get to do things. i saw most of the capitol cities, a lot of neat things that you don't normally see. how cool is it to go riding over the pyramid's? i wanted to come home. i hadn't had a sonic burger for a long time and i hadn't been in a store that was open past 8:00 at night are longtime and i wanted to come home. and i did. pinellas, which is the air force -- it was okay but they are not
8:58pm
half of what you're. you guys are air force? they never minded. that is relevant. that whole landing on a carrier thing, they can keep it. it was a good school. wasn't anything like ours. ours was a months monthlong and it was miserable. i came out of that a changed human being, for the better. i lost almost all of my cockiness and quite a few tailfeathers and spent the next decade being a weapons and tactics officer at a different level than a fighter wing. i was in khobar towers when that blew up. do you guys remember that? always in the wrong place at the wrong time. i was there when that place blew up. we hadn't really, i don't think any of us was thinking about terrorism the way that is thought about now. it wasn't something we were prepared to fight. my generation was geared to
8:59pm
fight the soviet union. i asked my teenage daughter, she says you know, what's wrong with russia? russia was the soviet union and she said what's that? it's a big thing in the late 80s and early '90s before it toppled. we were geared up to fight them and most of us have never really considered iraq or knew who saddam hussein was. after that war was over, which winning was a forgone conclusion, you you no? the terrorism thing caught us by surprise. we thought they were rabble-rousers and never gave them too much credit. interesting enough all the buildings in khobar were told by the bin laden construction company and they had the bin laden stamps on all of the buildings. how is that for irony? but after that things kind of changed and the world trade center bombings and september 11 of course, we all know what happened that day. i was actually flying that morning and had come back from the middle east from another